D-Mar General Contracting Lauds Efforts to Recruit and Train More Women in Construction Industry
CLEARWATER, FL — While the proportion of women in construction and extraction occupations remains lower than any other major job category at just 2.6 percent, several new programs aim to reduce that disparity as demand for skilled labor continues to grow. Certified General Contractor Doreen DiPolito - Owner and President of D-Mar General Contracting and Development in Tampa Bay, Florida - hails these efforts as a step in the right direction and encourages more women to explore careers in construction.
Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) in New York, New York, is one such program that prepares and places women in construction, utility, and maintenance jobs. In addition to providing training, NEW helps arrange apprenticeships that pay around $17 per hour, plus benefits; women who successfully complete multi-year apprenticeships can earn upwards of $40 per hour. Since 2005, more than 1,000 NEW graduates have become apprentices, and they now hold 12 percent to 15 percent of all apprenticeships with leading New York laborers’ and carpenters’ unions.
Within D-Mar’s hometown area of Tampa Bay, the Women Building Futures program offers training in valuable construction skills such as carpentry, painting, drywall installation, and flooring and tiling. It also provides Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified safety training and assistance in finding employment. Sponsored by The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women, the program arose from the demand for construction workers in Tampa Bay. Luis Rodriguez, Program Manager for Women Building Futures, says the next series of classes will begin in October 2015, and a sliding fee scale will help lower-income women afford the $65 per week training cost for the eight-week program.
DiPolito believes the current lack of women in construction is due to the decline of vocational education in schools and gender stereotypes that encourage females to pursue more traditional job roles.
“Many simply never considered construction and contracting as a career option, which is a loss both for women and for the industry,” said DiPolito. “Women can benefit tremendously by pursuing employment in this field, since construction jobs pay well and the required training can be completed much more quickly than a degree. And, let’s face it—the industry needs all the skilled workers it can get right now.”
Numerous indicators—such as the fastest rise in construction spending since 2006 and a steady increase in hiring of architects and engineers—point to a growing demand for construction workers, while industry insiders report that contractors are seeking skilled laborers and may have difficulty finding enough workers to take on new projects. DiPolito maintains that women are the solution to this dilemma, and she urges them to enroll in training programs like the ones offered by NEW, Women Building Futures, and other local organizations.
DiPolito said, “Females are finally being welcomed into the construction industry with open arms, and now is the perfect time to take advantage of that.”